Best Of The Best 2006: Branson’s Berber Fantasy
Kasbah Tamadot, the latest addition to Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition resort group, stands in Morocco’s Asni Valley, a place where ghostly, thousand-year-old villages cling to the mountainsides overhead and rivers rush through steep, rocky gorges below. The converted kasbah, which joins a South African game lodge and a Caribbean private island in the ballooning billionaire’s collection, is no less eye-catching: Behind its ornate gate and crenellated ramparts, Branson’s Moroccan folie is a 19th-century pastiche of rose gardens and courtyards, splashing fountains, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, rooftop terraces, and hidden, curtained alcoves. Its 18 guest rooms—no two are alike—and public areas beg the term eclectic; ceilings are decorated in North Africa’s hypnotic style of geometric patterns, the floors thickly strewn with carpets, and the spaces in between furnished in antiques from India, Africa, China, and Italy. Kasbah Tamadot’s executive chef, Jean Mundell-Murphy, most recently from Branson’s Necker Island resort, spent months studying the local style of cooking to create her own dishes. Drinks may be enjoyed at a rooftop bar while looking across the valley to a bustling Berber village.